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Notes on Afrikaans


Representing ’n

Afrikaans writes the indefinite article ’n, which is clearly an elision of een. There are a priori multiple ways to represent this using Unicode:

  • <U+0149 ʼn LATIN SMALL LETTER N PRECEDED BY APOSTROPHE>. After all, this character is specifically annoted “Afrikaans”. However, it is also annoted “legacy compatibility character for ISO/IEC 6937”, and the corresponding character is deprecated (in that standard, not in Unicode).

  • using the compatibility decomposition of U+0149, which is <U+02BC ʼ MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE, U+006E n LATIN SMALL LETTER N>. However, it seems that this decomposition is a remnant of the time when U+02BC was the recommended character for the representation of elision, which is no longer the case.

  • <U+2019 ’ RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK, U+006E n LATIN SMALL LETTER N>, on the basis of U+2019 being the appropriate character for the apostrophe used for elision, and on the basis of other similar constructs in Afrikaans. This is the solution we have retained for the representation of the UDHR.

Regardless of one’s choice, it seems that all three representations, as well as the obvious <U+0027 ' APOSTROPHE, U+006E n LATIN SMALL LETTER N>, can be found on the web without too much difficulty. It is also likely that one can find <U+2018 ‘ LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK, U+006E n LATIN SMALL LETTER N>, as a result of “smart quotes” functionality.

Note that the UCD provides the following complex uppercasing and titlecasing for U+0149: <U+02BC ʼ MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE, U+004E N LATIN CAPITAL LETTER N>. However, according to the Afrikaanse woordelys en spelreëels, when a word starting with an apostrophe is capitalized, it is the first letter of the next word which is capitalized; for example, 'n groot ... at the beginning of a sentence becomes 'n Groot ... (rule 9.3; see more examples at http://hapax.iquebec.com/typo-afrikaans.htm).